dis·​ci·​ple di-ˈsī-pəl How to pronounce disciple (audio)
: one who accepts and assists in spreading the doctrines of another: such as
Christianity : one of the twelve in the inner circle of Christ's followers according to the Gospel accounts
: a convinced adherent of a school or individual
a disciple of Freud
capitalized Christianity : a member of the Disciples of Christ founded in the U.S. in 1809 that holds the Bible alone to be the rule of faith and practice, usually baptizes by immersion, and has a congregational (see congregational sense 3) polity
discipleship noun
Choose the Right Synonym for disciple

follower, adherent, disciple, partisan mean one who gives full loyalty and support to another.

follower may apply to people who attach themselves either to the person or beliefs of another.

an evangelist and his followers

adherent suggests a close and persistent attachment.

adherents to Marxism

disciple implies a devoted allegiance to the teachings of one chosen as a master.

disciples of Gandhi

partisan suggests a zealous often prejudiced attachment.

partisans of the President

Examples of disciple in a Sentence

a disciple of Sigmund Freud a circle of dedicated disciples who conscientiously wrote down everything the prophet said
Recent Examples on the Web This is also how Warren introduced his own disciples like the Twinz, the Dove Shack, and Jah Skillz to the world. Ade Adeniji, SPIN, 20 Mar. 2024 Christian tradition links Patrick to the island through his disciple St. Dabheog, who established or oversaw a monastery there. Lanta Davis and Vince Reighard, Smithsonian Magazine, 15 Mar. 2024 Thus, whoever is stiff and inflexible is a disciple of death. Lance Eliot, Forbes, 25 Feb. 2024 Whoever is soft and yielding is a disciple of life. Lance Eliot, Forbes, 25 Feb. 2024 Springsteen’s collaboration with his Heartland Rock disciple was the most anticipated in a night of nearly 20 performances over nearly three hours. Ethan Millman, Rolling Stone, 3 Feb. 2024 Jesus also washed the feet of his disciples and shared a foreshadowing of Judas’ betrayal at the Garden of Gethsemane. Marina Johnson, The Courier-Journal, 21 Feb. 2024 The Last Supper refers to the last meal Jesus ate with his disciples prior to his trial and crucifixion, around the time of the Hebrew Passover. Marina Johnson, The Courier-Journal, 21 Feb. 2024 Godfrey is a zealous supporter of Father Divine, a one-time minister from Baltimore —yes, Baltimore — whose Peace Mission movement attracted between 2 million and 10 million disciples. Mary Carole McCauley, Baltimore Sun, 9 Feb. 2024

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'disciple.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Middle English, "follower of Jesus, one of the apostles, pupil," in part going back to Old English discipul, in part borrowed from Anglo-French disciple, both borrowed from Late Latin discipulus "follower of Christ, apostle" (translation of Greek mathētḗs), going back to Latin, "pupil, learner," of uncertain origin

Note: Traditionally explained as a derivative of discere "to learn," but the second element -pulus is neither a known word nor a suffix. According to an alternative explanation, the base is nominalized from an unattested verb *discipere, putatively, "to grasp, comprehend," from dis- dis- and capere "to take, seize" (cf. disceptāre "to dispute, debate," supposedly a frequentative from this verb); this is semantically questionable, however, and -ulus is any case not an agentive suffix.

First Known Use

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of disciple was before the 12th century

Dictionary Entries Near disciple

Cite this Entry

“Disciple.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/disciple. Accessed 20 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition


dis·​ci·​ple dis-ˈī-pəl How to pronounce disciple (audio)
: a person who accepts and helps to spread the teachings of another
discipleship noun

Middle English disciple "one who follows and spreads the teaching of another," from Old English discipul and early French disciple (both, same meaning), from Latin discipulus "follower of Jesus Christ in his lifetime," from earlier discipulus "pupil"

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